Features Live Action Movies

Restore Point
(Bod Obnovy)

Director – Robert Hloz – 2023 – Czech Republic – Cert. 15 – 113m


A detective investigates the murder of a couple, one of who helped create the technology for restoring people to life after they die – thought-provoking SF thriller is out UK on digital on Monday, April 1st

In essence this is a crime movie about corporate conspiracy and murder, but with a difference putting it into the real of science fiction – although given the speed at which current technological advances are taking place, it’s the sort of thing one can imagine being reality in a matter of years. It’s set in the not too distant future of Central Europe 2041, where technology has been developed to back up people to restore them to life should they die. This has been guaranteed by the State for anyone dying a violent, unnatural death following an increase in violent crime. This in turn is the result of growing social and economic inequality (an element not explored beyond an introductory intertitle on the screen).

This allows for fascinating plot variants to the crime genre. If someone is shot dead, they can be brought back to life within 48 hours – provided they have a backup and only so far as that backup is up-to-date. One character in the film has a four-month-old backup, so if she were bought back to life, she would have no memories of the last four months. Characters can be held hostage for 48 hours, then killed after their backups run out. People can erase their own backups or the backups of others. People can opt out of the system and refuse to be backed up, and so on.

There is so much potential here that it seems inevitable that the film can do little more than scratch the surface. Indeed, one can imagine film after film being made exploring the wider ramifications of the idea. That said, this first entry delivers as an efficient police / industrial corruption movie, but little more.

Detective Trochinowska (Andrea Mohylová) is a lone operator rather than a team player, but her captain (Jan Vlasák) likes her anyway. She blunders in to a high-tech building to discover a murderer escaping after killing his victims: he throws himself off the roof in the name of Freedom. The backups of the murdered couple have expired in their captivity of over 48 hours, so it is too late to restore them.

The husband was one of the top scientists working at the facility responsible for the Restore Point software, whose director Rohan (Karel Dobrý) wants to privatise the facility so he can do away with the 4-hour limit and improve the service (although it is feared that this may put the cost beyond the reach of poorer people).

Investigating the late wife, the detective learns she had taken a lover Viktor Toffer (Milan Ondrík) linked to terrorist organisation River of Life, who want to ban the Restore Point technology and allow people to die like they always have done. She is pursuing him when she runs into the murdered husband David Kurlstat (Matěj Hádek) who has restored himself from a six-month-old backup and consequently can’t remember anything that has happened since that time. She teams up with Kurlstat only for both of them to be pursued by Europol agent Mansfeld (Václav Neužil).

Much of this feels like every other cops and robbers movie you’ve ever seen, yet the bigger context within which it all takes place and some of the unexpected plot twists and turns resulting from that are fascinating.

The other place the film scores is in its incidental suggestion of a world where AI has become fully integrated into everyday life for the betterment of human life. Approaching a building where she believes a hostage situation in progress, the detective orders a helicopter to initiate a building scan to see if there’s anything inside. Later, at home, she takes a piano lesson from a holographic playback of her late concert pianist partner (who was killed during a terrorist attack two years ago). Leaving the building for the police headquarters, she orders a self-driving car to be ready for her, and it opens its doors for her when she reaches the basement car park.

It certainly delivers as a thriller, but the real reason to see it is the broad brushstrokes of the script redefining death and our relationship to it. On that level, the film is a game-changer, and one looks forward to everything set to follow in its wake.

Restore Point is out on digital in the UK on Monday, April 1st.


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